DTG Printers 5 Things You Should Know to Stay Happy


DTG Printers are Fairly New

We’ve come a long way in direct-to-garment printers.  Back in the day, they used ancient devices called screen printers.  Compared to direct-to-garment, screen printing is like trying to read War and Peace while rock climbing. Direct-to-Garment printing is a relatively new technology that began in the early 2000s and is now hitting its stride.  It’s a great time to get involved in DTG Printers.

Direct-To-Garment Printers Have a Substantial Learning Curve

DTG Printers seem pretty simple on the outside.  Load the image to the computer, put the shirt in the machine, and press the button. But there are factors you usually would not be aware of if you’re new to the direct-to-garment industry. So although digital printing is much easier than screen printing, there is a slight learning curve to overcome, but after that, it’s smooth sailing.

direct-to-garment printers

Printing on dark t-shirts isn’t exactly splitting the atom, but compared to printing on light t-shirts, it is more complex and time-consuming.  Therefore, pretreat is required if white ink is being used.  Furthermore, it would help if you pretreated the t-shirt, heat press it, printed the image, then heat press it again. Despite sounding a lot easier than it is, there’s a learning curve to DTG Printers. On the other hand, the old way of doing things required you to pretreat your shirts using power sprayers and such.  Some direct-to-garment machines allow you only to pretreat the areas you want, saving you time and money.


Printers Must be Maintained

First, when you come in the morning, there will be maintenance. Second, when you leave at night, there will be maintenance. Likewise, if something goes wrong… you guessed it.  There will be maintenance.  This has mostly to do with the white ink settling down in the lines and clogging up the heads.

Direct-to-Garment Printers are Expensive

Getting into DTG Printing can be a substantial financial risk. The machines are expensive, and the cost of supplies & consumables can add up. Above all, everything but that last part was true, but depending on how much you sell each t-shirt, the printer will eventually pay for itself.  Everything after that is profit. Do your research first and attend a few trade shows like ISS, NBM, or SGIA. Most of the time, vendors will give huge discounts on initial equipment purchases during trade shows, saving you a ton of money.

Northwest Custom Apparel has a FREE DTG Demo in Seattle.

If your business is in Washington or Oregon, you can stop into Northwest Custom Apparel and receive a demo of the Kornit DTG printer. Many local screen printers looking to purchase a DTG printer can arrange a time to see the Kornit printer work in production. We recommend you visit a working DTG shop with the printer running in a production environment.

You can speak to the printer operator firsthand and get an unbias opinion of direct-to-garment printing. Northwest Custom Apparel isn’t endorsed by Kornit or any other DTG printer company so you will hear truthful, unbias reviews. To schedule a demo, please get in touch with Erik Mickelson at [email protected] or call our local Seattle number 253-922-5793

Kornit DTG Printers are the choice of Seattle’s Northwest Custom Apparel.

Northwest Custom Apparel started in the custom embroidery industry in 1977 in Seattle. As technology grew and direct-to-garment options came to market, the Kornit DTG printer was #1. We purchased our first Kornit Storm 2 in September 2011. We had a big learning curve since it didn’t perform as the sales rep promised. Despite this, the struggles lasted for 3-5 years; with the Kornit constantly breaking down, we never gave up hope.

We finally had enough of the breakdowns and misprinted t-shirts, and we had a sit down with the executives at the Kornit Headquarters. Under those circumstances, the Kornit Execs sent us a brand new Kornit Hexa to apologize for the years of struggle. The new Kornit Hexas work tremendously, and our downtime is less than 90%.

two young men standing in front of a Kornit printer
Kornit Storm Hexa inside Northwest Custom Apparel

Our Kornit Hexa in Action Video NW Custom Apparel

Related Blogs
We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.

Antonio Massey

Production Team: Folder

Antonio Massey recently joined NWCA in June of 2022. His role on the Production Team has greatly improved our processes and productivity. Antonio is always willing to lift heavy boxes or help his co-workers during busy times. In his free time, he enjoys playing with his dog and mastering video games.


Alicia Wada

Shipping Clerk

Alicia Wada is passionate about helping her co-workers at Northwest Custom Apparel in any way that she can. She works in our Shipping and Logistics department. Alicia, who goes by Ali, has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. She lived in Japan for ten years and recently brought her family to America in 2019. She is interested in learning crafts and textile art from around the world.


Erik Mickelson


Erik Mickelson’s position as Manager is more than a job, it’s a passion. It’s always fun and exciting because he enjoys marketing, computers, and coming up with innovative ideas to help NWCA grow. He majored in accounting and finance at Washington State University, graduating in 1996, and returned to school to obtain his Master of Business from WGU, graduating in 2016. Erik continually strives to advance his education through podcasts, audiobooks, and industry tradeshows. He is married to a remarkable and caring wife named Wendy, a Registered Nurse, with whom he shares his many hobbies and a love for the outdoors.



Ruth Nhoung

Production Manager

Ruth Nhoung is our Production Manager and Northwest Custom Apparel is lucky to have her. Thanks to her vast knowledge of machine embroidery and dedication to creating a comfortable and supportive work environment, the production plant runs smoothly and customers are pleased with our work. She is a loving mother and grandmother and enjoys spending quality time with her siblings. She says, “I love everything about Northwest Custom Apparel: the people, the atmosphere, the work, and the customers. I love what I do and I embrace all of NWCA’s core values”.


Steve Deland

Art Director

Steve Deland has been our amazing Artist since 2017. He loves working at Northwest Custom Apparel because he appreciates the goal-oriented, progressive-thinking management style. He is most passionate about his art, which includes scroll saw woodwork, and his five grandchildren.



Taylar Hanson


Taylar Hanson is a highly acclaimed Saleswoman at Northwest Custom Apparel. She has a BA in Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles from Washington State University. “Go Cougs!” The best part of Taylar’s job is getting to work with longtime customers who trust us to do the best work and take care of their needs. She is passionate about appreciating nature, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


Nika Lao


Nika Lao is very knowledgeable in how the business is ran because she began as an Embroidery Machine Operator and has worked hard to become the excellent and personable saleswoman she is today. She enjoys the stress-free environment and the many chances to connect with her co-workers over potlucks, BBQs, and bowling parties. Nika is a proud sister of two highly successful brothers and can boast mastering three languages herself: Khmer, Thai, and English. She is an avid camper, enjoys going to farmer markets, and loves cooking.


Bradley Wright


Bradley Wright has been a vital team member of NWCA since 2017. As our accountant and knower-of-all-things, Bradley is proud to work closely with his wonderful colleagues. He studied at the University of Washington. These days he dedicates his free time to his new house.


Dominic Nguyen

DTG Operator

Dominic Nguyen recently joined our Direct-To-Garment department. He says he loves the family work environment at Northwest Custom Apparel. In his free time, Dom likes to listen to music, hangout with friends, and play video games. He comes from a very big family which can be very chaotic at times, but is always exciting.


Sothea Tann

Production Team: Trimmer

Sothea Tann recently joined the Production Team in 2022. She finds Northwest Custom Apparel to be a good working environment with helpful and friendly staff. In her free time, Sothea spends quality time with her family and, overall, focuses on a peaceful and happy lifestyle.


Brian Beardsley

DTG Supervisor

Brian Beardsley has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. He is our DTG Supervisor. Brian loves that he gets to work with high-tech machines in a fun atmosphere. He has a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. He said, “I always wanted to create visually interesting assets in a variety of mediums”. In his free time, he enjoys building and painting models, playing video games, designing, and playing his guitar.


UT Tri Tran

Embroidery Machine Operator

UT Tri Tran loves Northwest Custom Apparel so much that, although she has already retired after a long career in machine embroidery operations, she is happy to return part time. She says, “I love the family style work environment and how everyone shares food, laughter, and fun on a regular basis.” In her free time she is dedicated to living a healthy and peaceful lifestyle with her friends and family.



Embroidery Machine Operator

BunsereytheavyHoeu, who goes by Theavy, won our Operator of the Year in 2021. She takes on many roles in the production team. She says, “These are not my co-workers, these are my family! I cherish all the memories we make together”. When she goes home to be with her family, she makes the most of her time with them by holding family get-togethers and even karaoke competitions.


Sreynai Meang

Embroidery Machine Operator

SreynaiMeang is a hard-working Machine Operator. She is most passionate about helping people. Sreynai, who goes by Nai, likes to exercise in her free time and talk with her family in Cambodia.


Kanha Chhorn

Embroidery Machine Operator

Kanha Chhorn has been an Embroidery Operator with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. She is delightful and always makes everyone smile and laugh. Kanha takes on additional tasks that allow us to exceed our customers’ expectations. In her free time, she can be found at her local temple or spending quality time with her family and friends.


Savy Som

Embroidery Machine Operator

SavySom is one of our Machine Operators who is passionate about embroidery and sewing. She enjoys working at NWCA because of its flexibility. She has two teenage sons and loves spending time with her family on the weekends.



Embroidery Machine Operator

SorphornSorm has been a Machine Operator since 2011. One of her four sisters works here as well. Her other relatives are in Cambodia. In her free time, Sorphorn studies English, listens to music, and enjoys exercising.


Jim Mickelson


Jim Mickelson, after a successful career with a major oil company, founded Northwest Embroidery in 1977. This was the first commercial embroidery in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, Jim has become the guru of embroidery never refusing to answer a question or offer advice to his fellow embroiders. Jim and his wife Leeanna raised four wonderful children who went on to successful business careers.